Thursday - 18 September 2014

Spero's exhibition lifts the lid on English porcelain

05 October 2012Written by Anne Crane

The latest catalogue for Kensington ceramics dealer Simon Spero’s next exhibition has just landed on ATG’s Editorial desk.

It's his 30th catalogue in a tradition of selling shows that goes back to 1972, numbering some 40 in all. The 43 pieces cover a period from 1745 to 1770, so that all of them fit into a broad category of early English porcelain.

Almost everything on offer has come from a private collection and has been chosen because it is interesting on at least one and usually several levels, be it the influence of another earlier ceramic product, the distinctive nature of its modelling or decoration,  its scarcity, or the fact that it throws some new light on a particular aspect of porcelain manufacture.

All of this is discussed in scholarly detail in the respective catalogue entries, but just as illuminating are Mr Spero's catalogue introductions - a highly readable mix of scholarship and anecdote and that tells you as much about the collectors who previously owned these pieces as it does about the objects themselves.

For example, his description of the 3in (7.5cm) high Bow model of a Dismal Hound (pictured) is "one of the most celebrated and most refined of the series of Bow animals of the 1750s". Mr Spero goes on to inform readers that "it was previously owned by the self-effacing and almost diffident John Warrell, a florist in Colchester who assembled through the 1950s and 1960s a remarkable collection of English porcelain and pottery... His extensive collection included as many as 50 Bow white figures and every Easter he would deploy them as decoration in his two flower shops".

Another intriguing piece from the exhibition is the 3¼in (9cm) wide box also pictured.

A passing glance at a piece with this type of quayside mercantile decoration might tempt one to think it was one of those Meissen porcelain snuff boxes of the 1740s. But although that must be the inspiration for it, this is an English enamel box made in London, very likely as a more affordable home market alternative to the costly German product. This London attribution is underscored by various inscriptions on the merchants' packs includingNo 40 Xan... London;No 791 Londonand a date of 1745 or 1755.

English Porcelain and Enamels 1745-1770 runs at 3a Campden Street,  London W8 7EP from October 11-20  Tel: 020 7727 7413 

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